Thursday, January 26, 2017

The law of unintended consequences: ending TPP

Pres. Trump withdrawing from the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) may be popular domestically but it may have long term damage to our national security.

The law of unintended consequences is at work here. In fact, this law could apply to the Trump administration's blow up of multi national treaties, from Europe to Asia. It opens the door for our allies to seek trade agreements with China or to go it alone and ignore the US. Power vacuums get filled, either by China or Russia, and countries going it alone means US will lose its leadership and the ability to shape world affairs in American security and economic interests.

From my blog posting August 25, 2016; "However, the New York Times digging around found that Donald Trump’s pronouncement  on foreign affairs issues show a connection to his business dealings.  He owes the Bank of China and Goldman Sachs in his finance dealings and his goals and business dealings with Russia are no secret now.  Trump’s  anti Southeast (TPP) trade agreement) positions may be a problem, too.  
Opposing the TPP may be a lure  for the Midwest belt  voters lying in rust with job killing globalization, but the TPP was also promoted to strengthen allies in Southeast Asia against Chines expansionism in the region.  His bromance of mutual flattery and echoing Russia’s President Putin’s  declaring NATO was obsolete, Russia did not grab eastern Ukraine  or that his reliance on debts to Wall street is indeed has a  suspicious connection to this business dealings. In these cases, there is fire of policy positions within the fog of smoke."

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The death of populism by executive order

The Democratic party is trying to rebrand  itself as the real populists. They have a wealth of material they can draw on, but just making a list is not enough. They need to come up with a theme that people understand...and they need to put that into a better to sell it than just ticking off a a series of issues. The list of issues should be subpoints under a broader banner of making it easier for the middle class to cope than the GOP platform of "you are on your own" buddy.   The following is from a 1/24/17 blog posting. This was written even before Donald Trump's endorsement of House and Senate bills to take health care insurance away from 15 to 22 million low income people.

The Democratic party is trying to rebrand itself, but it is still floundering around on how to message that they are the "real populists". I suggest they pose it two ways. Trump conned you; he is making it harder for the middle class to cope, not easier and the Democratic Party is fighting for making your life easier. It is both a negative and positive message and the dems have got to deliver a positive message better than what they are planning to do. They need to put their plan under a forceful banner...of making life easier than harder and tie each issue to that banner.

"Think you just elected a populist who cares about the working middle class? You were conned. This pledge to cut regulations by 75%  alone signals the death of populism. So many of those rules and regulations were crafted to protect consumers and the general population from exploitation by unethical and anti-consumer and health-harmful business practices. How many more Love Canals, unsafe at any speed vehicles, mortgage /foreclosure disasters, loss of job safety protections, and deceptive trade practices will we see in the future?  
President Trump's first executive order was to nix a reduction in FHA mortgage insurance which would have saved homeowners on the average of $500 per year. His second executive order was to ask cabinet heads to do what they can to kill Obamacare by administrative action. That will only harm the lower middle class who for the first time could afford quality health insurance.

His following  executive order to rollback of Dodd-Frank requirements of feduciary responsibility of those in the financial sector to put their clients' best interests ahead of their own financial gain. That means when advising clients where the invest their money, the financial professionals can sell customers products which give the advisors higher rewards, not the clients.  This is an overt attack on consuer interests and populist concerns.
Trmp has a cabinet more than happy to carry out anti-consumer, anti-environment, anti worker safety orders. From an earlier Muftic Forum Blog posting: "The platform he ran on has been described as pragmatic populism. What has happened since the election is that he has introduced an invasive species to the Washington swamp and his cabinet, the billionaires. Where the rub comes is if the solution to everyday health, safety, and pocket book problems of the struggling middle class conflict with the solutions offered by the business oriented billionaires .
These billionaires  are anti-populists if there ever were. They come with preset notions that what is good for their business is therefore good for all , with agendas that are contrary to the mission of the departments they are going to lead ,and histories of supporting ideologically based crusades. Neither is Donald Trump, when he declared his goal to eliminate 75% of laws and rules constraining business from it appears practices harmful to consumers and the environment.. They have no record of caring for the public interest as a whole, but their care has been for the bottom lines of the business or medical sectors they have served. Where the rub comes is if the solution to everyday health, safety, and pocket book problems of the struggling middle class conflict with the solutions offered by the business oriented billionaires ".

Trump repeated his campaign pledges to roll back rules on companies, arguing…

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Gaslighting defined; an example of what it is: Trump's inflating his inauguration audience size

A version in print in the Sky Hi Daily News, January 27, 2017

A recent CNN report defined a tactic known as gaslighting. It is a manipulative technique used by dictators and abusing spouses, to throw the public or victims off balance, confusing, contradicting, and leaving them so confused, they cannot find what is reality so they just believe the "great leader" or the abuser.
That President Trump's complaint that the press got the size of his turnout for the inauguration wrong  is the text book example of gaslighting. His spokesperson, Sean Spicer,  claimed the TV view audience was the largest in history and complained about press coverage.. Nielsen ratings also showed viewership  was down seven million from the Obama 2009 inauguration.  Spicer seemed to be saying what you see in pictures is a lie; and what Trump or his spokesperson says to the contrary is the truth. Kellyanne Conway, Trump's other spokesperson, the next day called Spicer's statement "presenting alternative facts". Her NBC interviewer, Chuck Todd,  called her out with  "Alternative facts are just falsehoods"  On MSNBC's Morning Joe  program, panelists compared this  to double speak as illustrated in George Orwell's book, 1984.  It reminded me of the nightmare aspects of Alice in Wonderland or her trip through the looking glass.

The first rule of political communication is to remember that a picture is worth a thousand words.The side by side comparisons with the photos of the Obama and Trump crowds attending their inaugurations flooded the social media, putting a visual lie to the Trump's administration claiming that the Trump inauguration crowds were the largest turn out for such similar events  in history.. The photos of the millions world wide who amassed in the Women's March the day after the inauguration in protest were virtually ignored. These pictures  were significant because, while so many were asleep at the voting wheel in November, it showed they now have the wakeup call and the beginning of an activist  movement with the potential of the anti-Viet Nam war  movement of the '70's. The lists and emails of the attendees provide an incomplete but  huge data base of those willing to act on their political beliefs and  can be called on to act politically in the future.

 What is notable was the leadership of this movement did not arise from the Democratic party organization.. It was clearly grass roots and later  issue oriented organizations, and organized, promoted  by social media. However, it struck such a chord with so many who were not activists in those interest groups or political parties,  that it caught fire and surpassed all expectations.This demonstration was no illusion to be dismissed as alternative facts by the gaslighters. If they do, it is at their own political peril. And dismissive they are. Kellyane Conway on January 23, Good Morning America, said she saw no point to the Women's March.
There were also many in small town Colorado who held their own local marches.  My county of residence, Grand County, has a population of 15,000, yet 28 took a chartered bus to Denver to join in and another equal number from the co found their own way there, including men and women. Those bus riders with whom I rode  were overwhelmingly  not the usual political activists of the county, but they were women who were in fear they were going lose gains their  interests in rights and equality over the past 40 or so years.  What I saw in Denver was there were also those who marched from many generations.  Joining me, for example, were my  fifty something daughter and her millennial aged son and girlfriend. .There were many  strollers with  young children pushed or carried by  the millennial, too.  Looking through the 100,000 plus  Denver crowd, this multigenerational  and gender attendance was the rule and not the exception. This movement is not confined to narrow demographics, but widespread and deep.

Each march participant had her/his reasons for marching. I posted mine in advance of my participation in the march on both my blog and Facebook. (The Muftic Forum)  " For the first time in my 79 years I will be participating in a protest march, the women's march being held in Denver. I am doing it for my grandchildren and my children. Some on the right consider this un Patriotic. What is patriotic is preservation of our democracy. Donald Trump neither understands or respects .Instead he admires dictators and his style is like demagogues we have abhorred in the past. Civil rights, freedom of the press, and and lower income citizen's and women's access to health care we have come to take for granted ...all are in jeopardy unless we take action during these next four years. It is not enough to march; this is only the beginning, the kick-off for future action."

In comments afterward, the issue of patriotism arose again. Some commented that they pledged allegiance to the Constitution in their minds, their Viet Nam protest era left a bitter taste of pledging allegiance to the Flag.  I note that the Pledge of Allegiance is both to the flag and the Republic for which it stands" which infers the Constitution since that is the document establishing the form of the Republic. while those who object to the demonstrations consider it un-patriotic and disrespectful of the new president, the Pledge of Allegiance is not to the president whoever he/she is, but to the Republic. Respect for the president has got to be earned by the president.  Donald Trump has a chance to earn that respect, but his gaslighting got him off to a terrible beginning for that quest.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

I will be marching in Denver in the Women's March today for the sake of my children and grandchildren

Today I will be exercising my first amendment rights. For the first time in my 79 years I will be participating in a protest march, the women's march being held in Denver. I am doing it for my grandchildren and my children. Some on the right consider this un Patriotic. What is patriotic is preservation of our democracy. Donald Trump neither understands or respects .Instead he admires dictators and his style is like demogogues we have abhorred in the past. Civil rights, freedom of the press, and and lower income citizen's and women's access to health care we have come to take for granted ...all are in jeopardy unless we take action during these next four years. It is not enough to march; this is only the beginning, the kick-off for future action.

The Women's Marches May Have Been the Largest Demonstration in US History
Sarah Frostenson, Vox
According to data collected by Erica Chenoweth at the University of Denver and Jeremy Pressman at the University of Connecticut, marches held in more than 500 US cities were attended by at least 3.3 million people.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Where Trump has it right on health care insurance (updated)

Donald Trump announced a worthy goal, that everyone in the US should have health insurance, and it ignited a firestorm in the GOP, with a Congress that seems to be hell-bent in reducing the numbers who have insurance through Obamacare.  They were wringing their hands, too that Trump was planning to take on the powerful lobbyists of the drug industry, since a great deal of the cost of insurance and the health care system in general was due to rising drug prices. Trump also demanded that repeal had to have a replacement nearly simultaneously.

Recently Donald Trump indicated a slow down to next year in providing a placement plan. Reality is setting in that moving from a campaign slogan to a plan that meets his goals is not that easy and he is wise to look before he leaps. Immediately, House Speaker Paul Ryan said Congress will not wait, but find a replacement this year, underlining in nine years, they could not agree on a replacement and will have a difficult time now.

Many GOP politicians ran this year on a platform of repealing Obamacare, they won, and they believe they have a mandate to repeal Obamacare, in spite of polls showing that only 18% favor repeal with no replacement those same politicians could not agree on a replacement. In fact, their plans to repeal but not tell consumers what the replacement would be until after the next election cycle was shot down by Trump. The mandate is to replace it,  and/or  fix (repair) it, but with what quality at how many covered at what cost are questions still hanging.  The  legislative challenge  is how can the GOP  get enough Democrats on board to avoid a  Senate filibuster over replacement details.

Paul Ryan, House Speaker, in a briefing February 7, is pressing forward on repeal/replace, whether or not the Trump administration has their plan. Their pitch: Obamacare is failing anyway, so they will come up with a better plan. If the plan is like prior proposals the GOP has made, what they have in common is that their plans would fail even worse than they claim about Obamacare, discriminating against women's health, and not disclosing how many would get any premium support via a tax credit, or what the impact would be on the actual cost of their proposal.

The policy challenge is how they can find ways to finance a plan that meets their goals without blowing the deficit out of the water and without removing insurance from 22 million who benefit directly now and everyone else indirectly from required standards for all health insurance, public, private and employer provided.

For those who gloss over the iimplications on the defict of any fix should recall the Simpson-Bowles commission The Simpson-Bowles bipartisan deficit reduction commission examined the relationship of Obamacare to the deficit and recommended “Controlling health care costs by maintaining the Medicare cost controls associated with the recent health care reform legislation.”  In fact, cost savings to Medicare by Obamacare has added 12 years to the life of Medicare per recent government reports.

The GOP plan in controlling costs is "competition", freeing insurers to offer choices that do not conform to the standards required in Obamacare, including women's health, covering pre-existing conditions forbidding life time caps on coverage, and making partitcipation strictly voluntary with no penalties. First, what lowers costs is the size of the pool any insurance plan, whether casualty, life insurance or health. The pool must have a mix of both those who pay in but never use vs those who pay in and use the coverage. The GOP plan narrows the pool by not requiring only those who think they will never get sick to join in the pool. It would also allow men who do not want to see any of their premiums support women's health to opt out of such benefits. That reduces the pool, too.

GOP proposes putting those with pre-existing conditions in a special pool of those who are bad risks and subsidize that. However, those pools exist now, have been tried before Obamacare passed, and turned out to be failures and extremely costly. Either they required a large taxpayer subsidy or their premiums were not reduced enough to make them affordable for many people. In Colorado, the high risk pool premiums were only reduced enough to bring them down to the level paid by those who had no prior conditions, which were still unaffordable for thousands without subsidies. Few in lower income brackets signed up

The other false premise advocated by the GOP is the concept of competition, including buying insurance in other states. Without nationwide standards, those other states would be free to provide substandard, cheap premiums and there would be a race to the bottom for all offering poor quality or fewer benefits. However even more fundamental is the fact that there is no competition in the market anyway. Major insurers have affiliates in multiple states, meaning your state may have Blue-Cross Blue Shield, and going to another state you will run into their affiliate. The other factor that keeps the insurance market from being compeittive is that all insurance is exempted from federal anti-trust laws, meaning they are free to get together with competitors, set prices and benefits.

Trump is closer to the thoughts of the electorate than is the GOP Congresspeople  as their members have found recent town halls and constituent meetings that have become very uncomfortably filled with  angry consumers who fear they will lose their life saving health insurance due to their Congressman/Senator/s vote to repeal Obamacare. Bernie Sanders has been able to rally large masses of voters, even in states like Michigan Trump won to support retaining Obamacare.

There are still those who bought into Sander’s proposal of Medicare for All, a single payer system, though Sander’s is not promoting  that for now. Instead  he is rallying  public pressure to retain the gains made by the ACA (Obamacare) in any form and is willing to work with Trump to achieve it.   Eventually just for economic reasons and known experience with single payers systems elsewhere in the world,  that alternative  will be revisited in the future because  a single payer system it is a far more efficient way to achieve the goal of insuring everyone. But now, given the issues at hand, Sanders is on the right track.

Improving Obamacare or Trumpcare s a goal  that should not get lost in the legislation.. It needs fixing. Aside from the morality of the issue and the life and death health concerns of so many, it has not achieved the goal of making health insurance available to all.    9 %  are still not insured and the high deductibles present their  financial burdens even for those who have insurance.

In the terms of sheer consumer financial worries there is motivation to fix Obamacare. According to the Federal Reserve, 47% of US families have only $400 in personal reserves to cover emergencies. A visit to the ER costs $1000 alone.  Before Obamacare, medical bills caused 60% of all personal bankruptcies. Most of those taking bankruptcy then had health insurance, but the insurance was  so poor with life time caps, high deductibles  and lacking in comprehensive coverage.   In 2016, of those with health insurance under the age 65, that number was reduced to  20%, still not good enough,  and for those without health insurance it was 53%.   The  obvious conclusion from that is that Obamacare standards and consumer protections need to be expanded to cover even more of the uninsured, not shrink the numbers with access to  affordable, quality, comprehensive  health insurance.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Some GOP's proposals to replace Obamacare are baiting and switching consumers

Heads up.  The GOP is about to bait  you with "better health insurance" and switch you to worse coverage. .They want to lure you with  the honey of  lower premiums but  reduce your  benefits and cost you more money from your pocket. All of this is being done in the  ideological name of letting the free market compete.  

News for consumers: There is no true free market in insurance. Exempted from any  federal anti trust provisions, insurers are free to get together set prices and benefits.  The result could be  giving us little choice or a bunch of bad choices unless  minimum standards  of benefits and consumer protections are required by the new law as consumers seek cheapest premiums. You will, however,  always be given a choice between which is nicer to customers, the one with quacking ducks or swimming dogs.

Their proposals strike at the heart of two pillars of Obamacare, comprehensive, quality health insurance, whether employer or public provided.. Many eliminate subsidies that make insurance affordable to millions and offer controversial , inadequate substitutes. Mandating standards and consumer protections have not been any part of their proposals.

The Trump administration, probably reflecting Donald Trump's  nominee for cabinet head of Health, Education and Welfare, Rep. Tom Price, has yet  to propose a replacement  plan, but Price's past positions give consumers a slap in the face. His plan evaluated by the Congressional Budget Office would result in 18 million losing insurance now, 27 million in a few years. Premiums would rise 20to 25%. Price has advocated for total repeal of the ACA, eliminating subsidies and replacing  them with tax credits ($1200 per year for everyone), and increasing tax savings plans,  setting up pools for those with pre-existing conditions, and eliminating Medicaid expansion.  Left blank are any  consumer protection provisions now in Obamacare.  High risk pools have failed as uneconomical wherever they have been tried, tax credits require up front expenses paid back at filing of income tax (with no indication of how much the credit will be  or what it will based upon who will be covered or the amount of  deductibles) , and there are no standards for what should be included in benefits, leaving it up to the market to provide the worst possible benefits , reverting to installing life -time caps, kicking the sick off the plan.  Health savings account are just another way to force consumers to pay more for their own insurance out of their own pockets and  it only works for those who have a large enough paycheck to stand the deductions. It is just a substitute with another name for high deductibles.

Obamacare mandates are also being targeted by the GOP.  One complaint  is that men have to pay for services they will never use such as pre- natal care and delivery or birth control or mammograms. Before Obamacare, women were charged more for insurance than men because of the higher expenses of their services.  The answer in some GOP proposals: Remove the men paying in means women get to pay more.

Other GOP proposals would  allow consumers  to opt out of having health insurance. Removing this mandate will allow the  irresponsible healthy to  gamble they will never get sick,  resulting in much higher costs for those who want and need  quality, comprehensive health insurance. Why? Because that is who will be left to pay into the insurance pool, the sicker and responsible. Soundness  and affordability depends on the largest pool of healthy and sick possible all paying in and lifting mandates will shrink the pool.


Here is what either no affordable coverage or reduced benefits will do to you: Many once again would be in jeopardy of bankruptcy and foreclosure. According to the Federal Reserve, 47% of US families have only $400 in personal reserves to cover emergencies. A visit to the ER costs $1000 alone. Those most likely to lose insurance are the poor, the sick, and the unemployed.

Before Obamacare, medical bills caused 60% of all personal bankruptcies. Most of those taking bankruptcy then had health insurance, but the insurance was so poor with life time limits , high deductibles and lacking in comprehensive coverage. In 2016, of those with health insurance under the age 65, that number was reduced to 20%, still not good enough, and for those without health insurance it was 53%. The obvious conclusion from that is that Obamacare standards and consumer protections need to be expanded to cover even more of the uninsured, not shrink the numbers with access to affordable, quality, comprehensive health insurance. Note, Tom Price, Trump's nominee to lead Health and Human Services prievious proposal of $1500 annual tax credit would only cover one visit to the ER but it would meet the Trump standard of insurance for all in a very cynical way.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Making national news: Gilpin, a turn around school turns around, gets closed anyway

Today NPR used the closing of Gilpin School in Denver as an opportunity to shed light on the issue of school choice.  The Denver School Board has cited figures to support their school choice activities, but others say it has  widened the equity gap of education between the more privileged and the less privileged. The closing of neighborhood schools is a burden than falls more heavily on the poor because of transportation difficulties to schools farther away and that the openings in the higher performing schools are filled by the more privileged. Full disclosure: the teacher featured in the article, Tanya Streicher, is my daughter.  This  is an update that was posted on my blog January 14, 2017 that shows how the School Board made sure it got its way in spite of score improvements.

Prior posting of a prior posting: Jan 14, 2017. This is an update of a prior posting. It is an example of where school choice as an ideal goal went awry. in this update is a letter to the Denver School Board, which includes a statement by Colorado Senator Michael Bennet, and an added comment of why he opposed Betsy Devos as Secretary of Education. For those interested in the school choice issue, this case may be instructive. Devos, an advocate for diverting public school funding to charter and private schools, was successful in her advocacy in Michigan. The result is that Michigan, once in the middle of the pack in test scores in reading and math plunged to the lower 40's in state rankings.The turnaround school turned around and got closed anyway. For those concerned about public education, be aware that Denver Public Schools mysteriously changed a critical score from the consultant's score to a lower one, resulting in closing the only self integrated walk to neighborhod elementary school in 5 Points, Gilpin Elementary Montessori, replacing it with DPS administration offices and a smaller charter school. In 5 months Gilpin increased its score by 8 points reaching the score needed to keep it open by DPS' own criteria....until DPS changed the score on its own.  Attempting to placate angry parents, DPS proposes a consolation prize: opening a small Montessori school within another at risk school.  There is strong evidence that DPS planned to use the upper floors for their own admin space and turn over the lower floor to a charter school. That Gilpin's scores improved so much to meet the criteria for non closure appears to have become an inconvenient truth for DPS.
 a mile away

Update February 11, 2017 and March 3, 2017

From the parents opposed to closing Gilpin Elementary School

Dear Denver Board of Education:

Although it may be presumptuous, I would like to remind you that when Bennet paved the way for Denver’s aggressive education reform movement he did so with a moral objective.
On his February 6th speech last week on the senate floor, Bennet stated:
“We must create space for innovation and school autonomy. And we must also provide choice to parents and kids.
But, our goal is not and should not be school choice for choice’s sake. For a youngster in a low-income family, there’s no difference between being forced to attend a lousy school, and being given the chance to “choose” among five lousy schools.
That’s no choice at all. It’s certainly not a meaningful one.
The goal is and must be to offer high-quality education at every public school, so that parents can choose among great schools in their neighborhood.
We must refuse to accept the false choice that you either support school choice — in whatever form — or defend the status quo.
Just as we must reject the idea that you cannot support public schools and advocate for change.
This old rhetoric and manufactured political division will not work for our kids. We need to rise above the narrow, small politics that consume our attention and permit us to avoid making tough choices.
Instead, we must recognize that a 21st century education can and should look different. And, no matter what approach or method of delivery, it must be high-quality.
The good news is we know it’s possible to reverse course and create meaningful change. Several cities around the country have already begun creating road maps to this 21st century approach.
Denver is one of them.
In Denver, we made a deal: create a public choice system that authorizes charters, creates innovation schools, and strengthens traditional schools.
We empowered schools through autonomy and worked to create a culture of shared learning and innovation focused on all ships rising.
We demanded quality and implemented strong accountability. High performing schools were rewarded, replicated and expanded. Low performing schools had to improve or be shut down.
We made tough decisions. We closed schools. I sat in living rooms and classrooms and gymnasiums with parents urging them to demand more from the school district, even if it meant their child had to go to a different school.
Along with concerned citizens, teachers, and principals, I went door to door to enroll kids in new schools.
Denver created innovative teacher and school leadership policies. We tried to rethink the tired model of the last century and create a new career for this one.
That’s why today in Denver you will find teachers teaching other teachers (and being paid for it), knowing that their job is not only to educate their students but to improve the honorable craft of teaching.
We used the levers of federal law, strong accountability, and civil rights protections as the backbone of change. We could not have made the changes we did had it not been for the national demand for improvement in our schools.
And the courage of our community to demand something better for our children.”
In opposition to the nomination of DeVos, Bennet later stated,
“A commitment to choice without a commitment to quality serves ideology rather than improvement, and a commitment to competition without a commitment to equity would forsake our democratic ideal that a free high quality public education must open the doors of opportunity to all.”
As you see it, you are closing a failing school, you are solving a problem. As we see it, you have created the problem by mismanaging the school and not listening to or acting upon the wishes of our community since Gilpin became a public Montessori neighborhood school. We have been working to make this school successful in spite of your corporate reform policies. Communities across the city for years have said no – stop closing our schools and work with our communities - together we can improve. Feeding money into struggling schools is fruitless when, at the same time, you have changed administrations and not allowed them time to implement changes. Our enrollment declines are amplified if not caused by the charter schools you have put into our area. If you can close our school due to low enrollment, then you should not have put in the charters nearby. We are demanding that the idealistic reforms you use to guide your policy be tempered. We demand that you reverse your decision to close Gilpin and give us a real chance to succeed.
Boasberg has been very clear that the district has provided Gilpin extra supports to turnaround our neighborhood school. This is true of course but what the Superintendent and board members have all failed to acknowledge and take ownership of is that at the same time these supports have been given, the district has been working against Gilpin’s success as well. While it may be inadvertent and I do believe everyone here has the best intentions to help kids succeed, Gilpin students are disproportionately affected by your reform agenda.

[it takes a village.png]The resources spent in new schools could have been used to bolster the existing persistently low performing neighborhood schools. In learning about all of this I have discovered that for years parents and community members who are against school closure have been isolated and ignored by DPS! Gilpin’s situation now is reminiscent of the closure and subsequent roller coaster of program and administration changes of Manual High School. How can a school ever achieve progress when it is constantly unsettled? The vulnerable population that Gilpin and Manual serves craves consistency and the ability to maintain relationships that serve as a foundation for trust and then confidence to face a challenging world. Michael Bennet likes to say that when approaching education management, you should think about the kids a school serves as your own. Is this how you would treat your own children? Can you even imagine what it is like to live in our neighborhood? Have you hung out here? You believe that you are doing these kids a favor by sending them off to a new school? Do them a favor and work within the community that they are already in. Do not tell me that it is impossible to advance positive change in this way.

The African proverb, "It takes a village" is a timeless saying and is really an appropriate anecdote for how lasting inequalities in our society could be better dealt with.
[Text Box: “It Takes a Village to Raise a Child.”  Mural at Mestizo Curtis Park Pool, 3 Blocks from Gilpin Elementary]I have noticed that the Superintendent forums are filled with advocates for traditional neighborhood schools. They are activating because, historically and now, DPS has not truly engaged them as parents and community members who have a say in their children’s education. DPS makes it look like they are requesting participation in the development of the district’s success. But time and time again, these advocates are flat out ignored and given the run around.
The end of bussing occurred at the same time as the education reform agenda was put in place. Manual was a high achieving school prior to the end of bussing and since, the school has re-segregated and decreased in performance. A decade later, you are closing Gilpin, a self-integrated school. That you have not ensured the stability of the school administration is directly related to the school’s struggling performance. How dare Boasberg blame Gilpin’s teachers and staff for failing the SPF. He actually told them that it was their fault Gilpin failed on the day the closure recommendation was announced.

The Gilpin community is not asking you to maintain the status quo!

The community's want for a walkable, neighborhood elementary school in Curtis Park is not based on some nostalgic Ozzy and Harriet fantasy (statement by board member Flores - It is a practical desire to send your child to a school close to home. There is nothing nostalgic about wanting a school that anchors a community of children who, as neighbors are destined to grow up with one another. It is an inconvenience to commute across city neighborhoods, walking a mile or even getting children to their bus stop as these add significant amounts of time to an already busy morning.

There will certainly be families who choose to go to a non-neighborhood school for a variety of reasons and extenuating circumstances. Is it not a consensus, given there were great schools in every neighborhood, the majority of families would attend the school closest to their home?  It is a practical, logistical request.

Gilpin is the only integrated elementary school in NNE Denver (See A+ Colorado’s report:

Parents meet with 3 DPS school board members to present data against Gilpin Closure

Friday, January 13, 2017

67,000 Coloradoans just got a big screw from the GOP Congress.

67,000 Coloradoans just got a big screw from the GOP Congress. They are in danger of  getting GOPCare from a party that cares less about those numbers who would lose their affordable insurance no acquired through Obamacare (Affordable Care Act). The House of Representatives has just joined the Senate with a maneuver to strip Obamacare of all subsidies which were used to make health care premiums affordable for 11 million Americans and to remove any requirement that those eligible to get Obamacare to pay for their insurance. .which was the funding mechnism to cover pre-existing conditions.The effect will not happen this year, but stay tuned for the next year. 
This was done on a strictly partisan vote using a trick called budget reconcilliation that can be passed by 51 votes in the Senate and therefore is filibuster proof. Where the Democrats will play a role is the vote on the replacement, which will be subject to filibuster, requiring the GOP to be more bi-partisan. This is where the rubber meets the road and is the chance for Democrats to shape any replacement.

Pres. Trump is advocating "health insurance for everyone". The question is: what kind of insurance?
Obamacare provides standards of what should be covered that have many benefits and provides financial stability to the program because it spreads the cost around by enlarging the pool of healthy paying into the entire system. The requirements that health care insurance in the Obamacare (ACA) law must provide comprehensive coverage is going to be under attack by the GOP and even Donald Trump. With some derision, this comprehensive approach is being called "cadillac" insurance (not to be confused by "cadillac" insurance provided by some unions). That is a code word for reducing benefits, weakening your coverage, and making you pay more from your own pocket.
Saving Obamacare is personal to me and my family . See if you fit into any of these situations:
A partially disabled friend for the first time could get proper medical attention for a chronic medical problem since he qualified for expanded Medicaid provided by Obamacare. My self employed son whose income level was too high for a subsidy still got coverage at much lower cost than before Obamacare and much better coverage with free annual checkups and cancer screenings. My daughter is contemplating leaving employment with employer insurance and will not have to go health insurance naked when she enters the private sector and starts a new business. She can get affordable health care coverage via Obamacare, probably made affordable by a subsidy because of her greatly reduced income while starting up the business. A daughter, breast cancer survivor with employer insurance, can now get mammograms and annual checks ups without high copays, and she does not have to worry anymore about life time caps on benefits. Before Obamacare, her out of pocket life-saving treatments were $20K. Even only one follow-up mammogram was covered. Obamacare relieved much of that burden. Because of the cost savings and the ACA to Medicare resulting my drug donut hole is covered and my Medicare has a 12 year extended life to 2029 and I, too, do not have copays for annual physicals and cancer screenings as I once did.

The question will be how many of these benefits will become part of Trumpcare? Would removing these standards and benefits required now of all insurance, public or private, give you "better" insurance? Or will you be back to the financial hardships of inadequate insurance and having to pay more out of your own pocket. The latter is most likely.